THURSDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Only 11 percent of the estimated 79 million Americans who are at risk for diabetes know they are at risk, federal health officials reported Thursday.
The condition, known as prediabetes, describes
higher-than-normal blood sugar levels that put people in danger of
developing diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
"We have a huge issue with the small number of
people who know they have it. It's up a bit from when we measured it
last, but it's still abysmally low," said report author Ann Albright,
director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation.
people to understand their risk and take action if they are at risk for
diabetes," Albright said. "We know how to prevent type 2 diabetes, or at
least delay it, so there are things people can do, but the first step
is knowing what your risk is -- to know if you have prediabetes."
that put people at risk for prediabetes include being overweight or
obese, being physically inactive and not eating a healthy diet, Albright
said. These people should see their doctor and have their blood sugar
levels checked, she said.
There is also a genetic component,
Albright said, which is why having a family history of diabetes is
another risk factor. "Your genetics loads the gun, then your lifestyle
pulls the trigger," she said.
According to the report, published in the March 22 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,
the lack of awareness of prediabetes was the same across the board,
regardless of income, education, health insurance or access to health
One expert found the numbers troubling.
know about prediabetes, they don't exercise, they don't eat appropriate
foods and we are going to have many more diabetics in the near future
than we have now," said Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox
Hill Hospital in New York City.
The danger of prediabetes is that
it can progress to full-blown diabetes, with all the complications that
condition entails, including heart, kidney, circulation and vision
Albright noted that 30 percent or more of those with prediabetes will develop diabetes over the course of a decade.
number of Americans with diabetes is already staggering. According to
the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in
the United States -- 8.3 percent of the population -- have diabetes.
good news is we know there are things you can do to prevent or delay
the development of type 2 diabetes," Albright said. "You can prevent or
delay diabetes if you lose 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight
and get 150 minutes of physical activity a week."
Another expert said it starts with what you eat.
a healthy diet that limits sugars and carbohydrates is important, said
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at
Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Exercise and diet can
reduce the risk of diabetes by about 58 percent, he said, and "giving
the drug metformin can reduce the risk by 31 percent. Lifestyle changes,
together with metformin, which the American Diabetes Association
recommends for prediabetes, will be very effective.